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Renewal of the Research Partnership Between Microsoft and the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA)
October 6, 2009 1:00 AM PT

Paris, October 6, 2009 – After three years of a successful scientific collaboration with outstanding results, Microsoft and INRIA (Institut National de Recherche en Informatique et en Automatique) are confirming their partnership. With the presence of the Education and Research Minister, Mrs Valérie Pécresse, and Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, Michel Cosnard, CEO of INRIA, and Andrew Herbert, Managing Director of Microsoft Research, Cambridge, signed a new agreement renewing the Joint Research Centre activity for four years.

The winning bet of a joint research centre

After 3 years of collaboration, the INRIA-Microsoft joint research laboratory—located in Orsay, south of Paris, and hosted by the INRIA Saclay-Île de France research centre—has found its place among the international scientific research community. It has become an attractive place for the best students from around the world and a stimulating exchange environment for both Microsoft Research and INRIA teams.

Microsoft researchers and INRIA researchers are supported by talented young post-docs and Ph.D. students advancing the state of the art in two areas: trustworthy and security computing, on one hand, and interaction between computing and other sciences, on the other hand. The first theme is about techniques to produce more secure and reliable software, a necessary condition as computers become more and more embedded in everyday life.  The second theme is about helping scientists in other fields to use computing to accelerate the pace of discovery in areas such as healthcare or sustainable development.

Michel Cosnard, INRIA Chairman and CEO, regards the joint centre as the natural extension of a proud tradition. “European research and education have always been excellent in theoretical computer science and mathematics, in particular in France,” Cosnard says. “By grounding our collaboration in our strengths and expertise and by exploring promising challenges, Microsoft researchers and INRIA researchers open new avenues in computer programming and software production―and provide new tools for scientists in other disciplines to progress. The results are already impressive. But what is most impressive is the quality of the relationships between Microsoft Research and INRIA researchers: full respect, trust, and confidence. These high-level achievements obtained by our researchers are a proof that the mixing of different cultures engenders the best results.”

The scientific activity of the Joint Centre has a great deal of promising results and demonstrates the excellence and the international spectrum of the work led since 2006, with a total of 118 publications and technical reports, including 18 articles published in international peer-reviewed journals and 44 publications accepted in tier-1 international conferences.

The research activity of the Joint Centre since 2006 can also be measured with:

  • 2 keynotes at the French Academy of Sciences in Paris;
  • 3 Ph.D. theses defended (Bologne, École polytechnique, Université Paris-Sud);
  • 9 Ph.D. theses to come in 2009–2010;
  • 7 novel software tools (ssreflect, sessions, tls-verif, tla-pm, ddmf, reactivity, gecode);

A scientific report describing the activity of the Microsoft–INRIA joint laboratory from 2006 and 2008 was published in February 2009 and is available.

Since 2006, 34 young researchers of 9 nationalities have contributed to the Joint Centre. Eighteen of them have completed all or part of their Ph.D. in the Joint Centre. They are all supervised by 37 researchers from French academic institutions (INRIA, but also from CNRS, the École Normale Supérieure, or the Université Paris-Sud) and also by 14 researchers from the Microsoft Research laboratories in Cambridge (UK), Redmond (USA) and the Silicon Valley (USA).

Sharing scientific ambitions:

This history of successful work led Microsoft and INRIA to sign a new agreement for 4 years to allow their teams to pursue their projects and tackle new challenges.

Here are some of the scientific challenges tackled since the beginning of this collaboration which may be solved within the next months:

  • In mathematics, computing formalization of finite group classification (algebra)1 which will be a first step towards the availability of demonstration tools easily usable by mathematicians not expert in computing.
  • Also in mathematics, the creation of a “Wikipedia of mathematics functions” for a large audience concerned with scientific experimentation.
  • Related to trustworthy computing: the definition of a formal language designed for security policies, and the proof of security protocols.
  • The most recent project to be started addresses the analysis of image and video archives. It brings together three of INRIA labs that have world-class facilities in computer vision (those in Paris-Rocquencourt, Grenoble-Rhône-Alpes, and Rennes-Bretagne). The aim is to bring the machine-learning discipline of data-rich computing to build powerful systems for analysis of rich visual media. The initial results are expected in the months to come, in particular in the field of archeology and digital heritage.

For reference:

  • April 26, 2005 – François d’Aubert, the French Minister for Research, Gilles Kahn, Chairman of INRIA, and Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, sign a memorandum of understanding. The memorandum announces the creation of a joint laboratory in France.
  • October 24, 2005 – François Goulard, the French Minister for Research, Gilles Kahn, Chairman of INRIA, and Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, sign a framework agreement. A laboratory is set up in the Orsay University park, south of Paris. The laboratory is hosted by the INRIA Saclay-Île de France research centre.
  • January 11, 2007 - Inauguration of the joint INRIA-Microsoft Research Center. Presentation of the activities of the joint research centre.
  • January 30, 2009Forum 2009 - presentation of the first scientific report of the INRIA-Microsoft joint research centre and its first results.

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A public science and technology institution, under the supervision of the French Ministries of Research and Industry.
Directors: Michel COSNARD, CEO of INRIA – Jean-Pierre VERJUS, Deputy Director. Annual budget (2009): 200 M€, including 21% in self-financing. Regional research centres: Paris - Rocquencourt, Sophia Antipolis – Méditerranée, Grenoble – Rhône-Alpes, Nancy – Grand Est, Rennes – Bretagne Atlantique, Bordeaux – Sud Ouest, Lille – Nord Europe, Saclay – Île-de-France. INRIA employs 2,800 researchers, of which more than 1,000 are Ph.D.s. They work in more than 168 project teams, of which the majority collaborates with other organisations, universities, and higher-education institutions. 80 Associate Teams around the world. 96 companies set up since 1984. For further information:

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services, and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

About Microsoft Research

Founded in 1991, Microsoft Research is dedicated to conducting both basic and applied research in computer science and software engineering. Its goals are to enhance the user experience on computing devices, reduce the cost of writing and maintaining software, and invent novel computing technologies. Researchers focus on more than 55 areas of computing and collaborate with leading academic, government, and industry researchers to advance the state of the art in such areas as graphics, speech recognition, user-interface research, natural language processing, programming tools and methodologies, operating systems and networking, and the mathematical sciences. Microsoft Research currently employs more than 800 people in six labs, located in Redmond, Wash.; Cambridge, Mass.; Silicon Valley, California; Cambridge, England; Beijing, China; and Bangalore, India. Microsoft Research collaborates openly with colleges and universities worldwide to enhance the teaching and learning experience, inspire technological innovation, and broadly advance the field of computer science. More information can be found at

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1The classification of finite groups starts by the ``Monster Theorem'' (Feit-Thompson) and comprises a very active area of research in mathematics, mainly published between 1955 and 1983, covering several dozen thousands of pages in more than 500 articles by more than 100 authors. Several doubts persist on several very long proofs. Therefore, full checks of these proofs by computers would remove these doubts.